Truck Drivers and Coercion

truck drivers and coercion

Up until very recently, much of the responsibility and burden surrounding hours of service (HOS) has fallen on truckers, even though drivers are only one piece of the puzzle. With the accelerated adoption of ELDs in Canada and mandatory implementation in the U.S. other participants in the industry, namely shippers and receivers are now having to share the costs.

We’ve heard countless stories of shippers and receivers taking too long to load/unload or to file paperwork etc. Unfortunately, unless drivers work in very specific industries (energy and livestock come to mind), that time waiting for the shipper/receiver to finish their jobs eats into their HOS. Essentially, more hours spent waiting means fewer hours spent driving, which means less money made. This isn’t a new issue, for decades shippers and receivers have been operating in ways that don’t take into account the time and money of drivers and carriers.

But lost wages aren’t the only problem truck drivers face. When drivers are out of drivable hours, where are they supposed to go? There are many stories of these drivers being stuck between a rock and a hard place regarding their HOS and where they need to be. Since most shipping yards are not equipped with the adequate space to have a truck parked for 10 hours or are simply unwilling to provide that space or service, this puts everyone in a tough position.

Most shippers/receivers don’t want the truck driver resting on their lot. As a reaction, they may try pleading or coercing the driver into altering their HOS so the driver can take their truck and find a rest stop. They could also contact the carrier, hoping that the fleet manager will attempt to coerce the driver into doing the same thing. However, if all these options fail, we have heard accounts of shippers/receivers threatening to call the authorities, citing trespassing laws as justification. However, from what we hear this rarely works. Especially if the officers are aware of the laws surrounding HOS. Since driving tired is a public safety risk, resting will typically take priority over any attempted claims of trespassing, which in themselves are illegitimate.


File Truck Driver Coercion Complaint

So what are the solutions? Well, first we should look at what the primary solution could be. Because at its core, this is an issue of efficiency and profitability. For years, truckers have been the ones responsible for bearing the costs of inefficient shippers, receivers, and consignees. Either paying with lost wages or with hours of lost sleep. However, ELDs provide a solid, unalterable “paper” trail meaning that shippers/receivers are now aslo being held responsible for their time as well. This is being translated into higher rates, more contracts, and a dispersed level of responsibility when shipments are late. So what could shippers/receivers be doing? The most obvious solution is speeding up the loading/unloading and filing process, being conscious of the truckers time and working with urgency. Additionally, shippers and receivers could have small dedicated rest areas on their lot for truckers who run out of drivable hours while waiting for the loading/unloading process to be completed, or at the very least be open to them using a portion of the lot for their 10-hour break.

However, if shippers/receivers are unwilling to cooperate or facilitate a healthier environment, the FMCSA has put in place a “Coercion Rule“. Three things must occur for actions to be considered coercion.

  1. Anyone from motor carriers, shippers, receivers or transportation intermediary’s request a driver to work outside of their HOS.
  2. The driver must also have informed the respective party that their request would induce a violation of their HOS.
  3.  Finally, the respective party must make a threat or take action against the drivers’ employment or work opportunities to get the driver to take the load, disregarding regulatory violations.

If these three things happen, which they often do, and if you’re a driver operating in the United States you may file a Coercion Complaint with the FMCSA. According to their website, all complaints must be written and include the following information:

  • Text messages or emails between parties showing coercion attempts; and
  • Names of anyone who may have witnessed the coercion attempt

You can mail your complaint to the division office located in the state where the driver is employed. Here is where you can find all the info you need. Alternatively, you can file the complaint with the National Consumer Complaint Database here.

Drivers in Canada currently do not have an equivalent resource, but as discussed above we have heard many instances where law enforcement has been called and the matter resolved in favor of the driver, allowing them to stay on the property of the shipper/receiver without the threat of expulsion.

Driving safe is the priority of drivers around the world, and balancing timely shipments with health and public safety is a constant battle. Luckily, with the introduction of ELDs drivers and carriers have a concrete data trail to prove they are out of hours. Meaning they can get the rest they need.



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